Business Notebook: Shoe repairman back in business

STERLING – Gary Lenox of Rock Falls learned the shoe repair trade at age 16. After taking a break from the business, he is back at it. Now 66, Lenox fixed just about anything with leather and zippers in the Sauk Valley for many years.

Lenox ran his business on Avenue G island for many years before the building was destroyed by fire. He also had done work from the Sterling and Rock Falls Grummert’s, and that is where he will be based again.

Customers can drop off their shoes or other leather items including handbags, orthopedic footwear or even baseball gloves. He says he can do just about any kind of custom repair work. He will do his work from home, and says he is even willing to pick up items at a customer’s home.

Lenox said his motivation for starting up the business again is twofold. He fears for the future of his trade, and its disappearance has created a market need.

“I want to keep the trade going,” Lenox said. “There aren’t many of us left anymore. They’ve gotten old and aren’t training others.”

Lenox said he would love to teach his trade to his son or grandson, but he would be willing to pass his skills along to anyone who shares his passion for the business. He learned as a teen from a German tradesman who was working in Dixon.

“I’d be willing to teach a vet or someone else who is interested in learning the trade,” he said.

Items can be dropped off during Grummert’s’ regular business hours. The Sterling store at 424 Locust Ave. is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Hours at the Rock Falls store, 1112 First Ave., are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Lenox can be reached at 815-499-4772 or 815-388-8047.

Local J.C. Penney survives cut

STERLING – When struggling department-store operator J.C. Penney announced Wednesday that it will close 33 stores, the store in Northland Mall was not on that list. In fact, J.C. Penney will close only two Illinois stores – in Bloomingdale and Forsyth.

The closures will result in the cut of 2,000 jobs and should save more than $65 million annually, the Associated Press reported. Penney has 116,000 staffers and operates more than 1,100 stores.

Shoulder to the Wheel deadline extended

ROCK FALLS – It’s not too late to nominate someone for the Shoulder to the Wheel awards.

As in years past, the awards will be presented at the Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting and dinner. This year’s event is planned for Feb. 27, at the Rock Falls Days Inn, 2501 First Ave. Nominees will be accepted in the categories of individual, organization, and youth organization.

Nominees can be recognized for accomplishments in the workplace or as a volunteer in the community. While emphasis is given to work done in recent years, the work can be cumulative, or focused on one specific project. The winners will be chosen by the Awards Committee, which is made up of past winners and area volunteers.

The deadline has been extended through Monday, in part because a broken water pipe has kept chamber staff out of the office for several days, president and CEO Bethany Bland said.